A Look Back on 2012 – and a Look Ahead

I may not have written on here much lately (cue promises of writing more regularly in the future), but 2012 has been a pretty epic year – and I’m not even done yet! That’s right, I’ve still got one more marathon in me this year, but more on that later. First, a quick look back on what I’ve accomplished (so far) in 2012.

In June, I ran my current marathon PR of 3:49:47 at the Mayor’s Marathon right here in Anchorage. It was a hot day (by Alaska standards) and a fairly hilly course, so I’ll be interested to see what I can do in 2013 under (hopefully) more favorable conditions.

In July, I officially became an ultrarunner after completing the Resurrection Pass 50 miler in 11 hours and 20 minutes. I ran with 2 of my good running buddies, it was a beautiful day, and we had an absolutely great time. I couldn’t have asked for anything more at my first ultra.

In August, I slowed things down and spent a week driving and hiking through Alaska and Canada on the Chilkoot Trail with my dad for his 50th birthday. This trail was used heavily during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800’s, so there’s a lot of history there and it’s a really wonderful hike. This is the second time we’ve done this backpacking trip, and have lucked out with great weather both times.

The “Golden Stairs”, then and now.

Fun fact: Geoff Roes has the FKT (fastest known time) for running this trail, in 5 hours and 27 minutes. We did it in 4 days. On the last night, a small group of runners came by our camp, and I must admit that I was more than a little bit jealous.

In September, I went north to Fairbanks to run the 50th annual Equinox Marathon. This is widely considered the 2nd toughest marathon in the country, only behind the Pike’s Peak Marathon (which, to be fair, looks a lot harder). To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s the elevation profile of the course:

This is a beautiful, rugged race run mostly on trails. It’s also one tough mother. By mile 20, after suffering through all the climbing and the quad-thrashing downhills, my legs were pretty much toast. After that, I adopted a liberal run-walk strategy to get to the end of my slowest marathon yet in 4:37:16.

Was it tough? Yes.
Will I be back next year? Yes.
For the 40 mile ultra? Most likely 🙂

Now, as I mentioned near the start of all this, I’ve got one more marathon up my sleeve for 2012. On December 22, just one day after the shortest day of the year, I’ll be running the Willow Winter Solstice Marathon, about 70 miles north of Anchorage. There will be just 5 hours 15 minutes of daylight that day. I use the word “daylight” liberally here, as it often stays quite dark during the day due to cloud cover and the fact that even when the the sun does come up, it never makes it very high over the horizon. The race website says to be prepared for -30°F to -40°F, and there could be lots of fresh snow covering the trails, making for some pretty slow running. What’s not to love, right?

Looking Ahead to 2013

I’m going to start 2013 off with a bang by running the Disney World Goofy Challenge in January. If you’re not familiar, the Goofy Challenge is to run both the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and the full marathon on Sunday. We’re turning it into a big family vacation, doing the whole Disney World thing, even taking a Disney Cruise.

Then, things will quiet down for a few months until summer arrives (at least race-wise, I’ll still be doing plenty of running through the cold and snow). Right now I’m planning on running most of my usual races – Mayor’s in June, Ressurection Pass 50 again in July, Moose’s Tooth in August, and Equinox in September.

I do have one big goal for next year, something I’ve talked about here and there with a few people, but haven’t really let the cat out of the bag yet.

Well, here it is: I’m planning to run my first 100 miler next year.

There, I said it, no take-backs. I’m not 100% sure which race I’m going to do yet, but I WILL run my first 100 miler in 2013. I do have a few criteria to go by when deciding which race is going to be my first 100 miler:

  • Relatively flat – for my first 100, I’d prefer something without ridiculous amounts of climbing. I fully realize that 100 miles is a LONG way to run, where so many different things can go wrong, and there is a very real possibility of me not finishing. A flatter course will help stack the deck a little in my favor
  • Late summer or fall race – this will give me all spring and summer to train, and there will hopefully be cool(er) temps on race day.
  • Western States qualifier – ultimately, I’d love to run Western States. If you’re not familiar, it’s the grandaddy of 100 mile races. It’s kind of like the Boston Marathon of 100 milers. Yes, it’s become insanely popular and difficult to get into. But to even be able to apply and test my luck in the lottery, I’ve got to run a qualifier.

With those criteria in mind, I’ve currently got 2 races on my radar: Javelina Jundred in Arizona, and Lean Horse 100 in South Dakota. Right now I’m leaning more towards Javelina Jundred, just because it sounds like a really fun race atmosphere.

So there’s my no-longer-secret goal for 2013. Am I crazy? Quite possibly. Is it going to be awesome? Most definitely.

4 thoughts on “A Look Back on 2012 – and a Look Ahead

  1. Sounds like an awesome year you have head for yourself.

  2. Sounds like a good year to me! For the 100 (which sounds insane to me, but also hardcore awesome), Jeannie on dailymile did Javelina this year: http://www.dailymile.com/people/Jeannie5

  3. Brandon, nice running in Willow. I wish I could have kept up with you and Ray on the return trip. I enjoyed the pace my injury allowed me to go anyway – course was awesome! Have fun at Disney.

    Didn’t realize you were such a young tike! (haha). I’m older than your dad I guess (52 this year).

    As far as 100 milers, I would recommend Lean Horse. I’ve not run either but have several ultra running friends who have done both and they are more successful at LH. However, I think either would be fine. Also, make sure you check out the WS100 site – they have changed their qualifying races. Looks like both of these are on the list so far – http://www.wser.org/qualifying-races/#2013

  4. Welcome back to blogging! 🙂

    We definitely need to arrange a meet-up in a few weeks.

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